Purpose: Via a descriptive survey, the authors evaluate the use of a computer network by individuals coping with cancer. DESCRIPTION OF SURVEY: Users were notified about the survey primarily through the computer network message board and obtained copies of the survey from the network library, electronic mail, or U.S. mail. Fifty-four participants from 27 states completed a 22-item forced-choice and Likert-type response survey developed by the investigators.
Results: Respondents reported using the network primarily for contacting others in a similar situation, obtaining information and emotional support, and encouraging others. Treatment of cancer and its effects on the family were reported as the most helpful topics. Respondents found the computer support network to be an excellent resource for information and emotional support, although participation was limited by cost and time constraints.
Clinical implications: Verbatim comments by respondents validate the needs of patients and families for ongoing information and support in the process of coping with cancer. Computer support networks can provide this service throughout the cancer continuum.